GONZALES - A pending study of Panama Canal and Conway Bayou in Ascension Parish will recommend clearing them of debris, prioritizing sections to dredge and removing built-up sediment underneath railroad and highway crossings, a contract parish engineer said.

Jake Lambert told the East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 board of commissioners Monday that the study is expected to be submitted next week to the parish.

Lambert, project engineer with Glenn G. Shaheen and Associates Inc. of Gonzales, detailed highlights of the study for the board Monday.

How quickly and extensively the proposed work is done depends on funding, officials said.

The district has been seeking for more than a year a $6 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to improve Panama Canal and four other waterways.

Conway Bayou and the Panama Canal drain the southern part of the parish’s east bank, including Pelican Point and the Burnside area, where housing has blossomed in the past 20 years. The channels move water roughly east toward swampland areas.

Most of Conway and Panama, which were built to drain then-agricultural land, have not been significantly maintained since the mid-1960s, Lambert said.

Lambert told the board that the study will call on clearing debris from certain sections of the channels first, then removing sediment from underneath railroad and Airline Highway crossings and then dredging selected sections of the two waterways, Lambert explained.

He said the strategy is to complete a few major sections of dredging in order to open the waterways and continue the process a little more each year as budgets allow.

The FEMA grant would pay for work on Panama but not Conway, as proposed. Conway improvements would be paid for out of district maintenance funds, drainage officials said.

Bill Roux, East Ascension drainage director, explained in an interview Tuesday that more extensive dredging can be done more quickly if all the grant funding is awarded, possibly by subcontracting the job.